Sunday, November 13, 2011

“Vice is Nice, But Incest is Best”

As I have witnessed our system of government in action and the way in which we select the talent for the various positions in that system, it occurred to me that we really haven’t changed all that much since the Founding Fathers signed the papers that set this circus in motion. By what process did they deem that elected officials would, somehow, become the fount of all wisdom and virtue as they set themselves to the task of governing? Why do we so readily acquiesce to elected officials as having all of the knowledge, experience, honesty and integrity necessary to make the heady decisions endemic to our modern world? Why do we allow them to isolate themselves from the real folk of this grand republic, sequester themselves in the hallowed halls of their various branches of government and pander to vested interests for the information that best serves what is required in order to make “informed decisions” on our behalf and for the nation on the world stage?

It seems to me that what has evolved since the infancy of this country is the election of a collection of individuals who are anything but equipped to deal with the affairs of state and domestic health that are the very foundations of what government is all about. To presume political acumen is necessarily synonymous with what it takes to understand issues and make decisions based on evidence seems all rather naïve to me. We have, for all intents and purposes, created a system that is just crying out for compromise on principles and the ability to overlook corruption when it comes to individual integrity. They routinely do things that would not be tolerated by any reasonably good and honest business person.

What kind of business acumen would allow his/her employees to unilaterally determine their compensation and benefit packages, and bless the outcome with absolute authority? Does that make any sense to you? Why do they pass on issues of such monumental complexity and ramifications without having ever consulted experience and expert advice? Doesn’t that seem rather arrogant and self-serving? It is akin to using the barter system as the basis for a contemporary retail business.

What qualifies the Senate and the House to evaluate and rule on complex issues of our day? A general education and background hardly qualifies one for an intelligent, informed assessment of the myriad issues submitted to them for deliberation and action. What qualifies the President to sit in private meetings with the barons of Wall Street, the shysters of the health care industries, those who peddle prescription drugs at vastly inflated prices and still come to terms on issues that are vital to the citizens of this country, and who will be affected for years after those decisions are made? It is a system tailor made for the massive corruption we have today. Is it any wonder that huge amounts of money flow into their coffers in exchange for decisions favorable to their vested interests? It seems that elementary Aristotelian logic would require that good decisions be made on the basis of verifiable facts and sound knowledge. Corruption flourishes on graft. Academicians have the knowledge we require. Peddlers of influence favor the use of shady deals in order to buy the influence they need in order to plunder the taxpayers treasure and fuel their insatiable greed.

This country has some of the finest colleges and universities in the world, staffed by some of the greatest academic minds the world has ever known. Why don’t we require that those who legislate avail themselves of that talent and require that it be applied to the vital issues of the day in this country? Can it be done? You bet it can. All it would take is a good system of checks and balances that would prohibit conflicts of interest, and money in politics. It would, no doubt, prove to be far less costly than the so-called campaign contributions they demand for their services. We need to keep reminding ourselves that they work for us, the people who put them in office and who pay the taxes to support what they are required to do on our behalf. Moreover, we need to insist on a demonstrated ability to provide the leadership we expect before we cast our ballot for the next resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Further, the exalted and omnipotent position enjoyed by the Supreme Court needs to be toned down so they, too, are constantly aware of the fact that their “judgment” does not trump the will of the American people.

I place a lot of stock in leadership. It may well be that one can learn the principles of leadership, but the actual practice of leadership is not only the knowledge of what it is all about, but that rare intuitive ability to make it all happen against the backdrop of what is inherently known to be right and just. Compromise is the stuff of obsequious sycophants, not leaders. Haven’t we had enough of those who pretend to be leaders? Isn’t it time to declare an end to the charade and get back to basics? Isn’t it time to tell all the demagogues that “enough is enough?” Isn’t it time to tell those who seek public office that we hold absolute honesty and integrity paramount for daring to claim the right to represent any and all of us? Isn’t it time to call out all of those who pretend to have mastered the art and science of politics for what they are? Frankly, I am tired of seeing them wrap themselves in mantles of virtue and expect me to trust them? The proof is in the pudding, as the old adage goes, "Actions speak louder than words."

The President of the United States has failed the American people. The House of Representatives and the Senate have failed the American people. The Supreme Court has failed the American people. The entire banking system has failed the American people. The military/industrial complex has failed the American people. The Republican Party has failed the American people. The Democratic Party has failed the American people. The “Tea Party” has failed the American people. Corporate America has failed the American people. The oligarchs and plutocrats have failed the American people. They all swim in the same cesspool of humanity that has brought this nation to the brink of destruction.

No matter how imperfect their movement may be, is it not time for all of us on the sidelines to stand, take off our hats and salute every one in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement for at least recognizing that enough is enough? In my humble pinion, they are the personification of what real democracy is all about.

To paraphrase the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin, has not the time come to give new meaning to “Believe none of what we hear and only half of what we see?” Is it not time for us to call out the demagogues who persistently and relentlessly engage in a frontal assault on our finest angels? Haven’t we had enough of their deceptive practices and empty words, and who flaunt our system of laws? Has not the time come for us to tell them to “pack up your tents and steal into the darkness from whence you came?”

The purveyors of hate and violence have no place among peace-loving people. And, it is the peace-loving people who genuinely seek answers to the tough questions that best serve us all and not just the will of a few. Those who labor in the quest for truth and justice are to be revered; those who revel in ignorance are to be pitied.

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
November 13, 2011

Support a Constitutional Amendment to “Get Money Out of Politics.”